Lop-Eared New Zealands?

You may take a look at the above picture and think, “When did you start raising lops?” Well, we didn’t.

According to the ARBA Standard of Perfection for New Zealand rabbits:

“Ears are to be medium thick, well furred, well shaped, rounded at the tips and be in proportion to the head and body. They are to be well set on the head, with a good heavy ear base, and carried erect.”

In other words, lop ears, or rabbits with weak ear bases, are undesirable on the show table and will be marked down appropriately based on the severity and judge.

Cause

Particularly since we added reds to the herd, we’ve had some babies show up with weak ear bases like the ones pictured, but what’s the cause of it? After doing some research and talking to other breeders, there are several reasons a rabbit breed with typically erect ears will have one or both ears lopped over:

  • Heat – Kits born during the summer, or during hot weather, will often have bigger ears. Bigger ears may lop simply because they’re heavier, but the hotter temperatures can also cause the weak ear base.
  • Growing too fast – In breeds that are fast growers, sometimes the ears will grow faster than the rest of them, and they just need some time to catch up.
  • Vitamin A Deficiency – A weak ear base or unnaturally shaped ears, can be a sign of Vitamin A deficiency, but usually this is accompanied by other more severe symptoms such as hydrocephalus.
  • Genetics – Sometimes, it’s just in the DNA. This is likely the cause of the weak eared kits we’ve gotten as they’ve been primarily out of one particular red doe.

What to Do About it

There’s not really a way to treat an unwanted lopped over ear. Prevention is the answer through better breeding and environmental conditions. Avoid breeding during overly hot times of the year and cull breeding animals who consistently produce kits with weak ear bases. Often times, especially if it’s due to the animal growing too quickly, the rest of the rabbit will catch up with its ears and they will hold them erect as an adult.

But, Does it Really Matter?

All in all, a New Zealand rabbit may not being considered as aesthetically pleasing with a lopped over ear, but it doesn’t affect how tasty they’ll be on the dinner plate. Any of ours with weak ear bases, unless they are phenomenal in all other traits, will likely end up being processed. We can guarantee though, that they are not crossbreds and we won’t be breeding true lops anytime soon.

20180620_164301
I’m still cute, you know. 

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